The past few days have been brutal in New England. Daily temps and humidity levels have both been hovering in the 90s, making me wish and hope and dream for our beloved fall and (dare I say) winter weather. What better way to think cool than to reminisce on a near-perfect day of ice climbing last winter…
It was the day after Christmas, and we were expecting the cliffs to be PACKED with experienced climbers, college outing clubs, and guide services… but we were shocked to arrive to an empty parking lot! Because this way my first day climbing of the season, I was really excited to have quiet, privacy, and a lack of watchful eyes at the crag. The conditions were warm (about 40 degrees F), making the ice nice and soft. We had a great day trying most of the routes at the ‘In the Forest’ section, which is a great place for those looking for some slabby style routes and easy top-roping. I was really excited to top a route with a chimney section.. something I may not have been able to do last season. I’m still very new to ice climbing, so I love seeing any kind of progress in myself.
Parking / Approach:
There is a large parking lot for Crawford Notch State Park right on RT 302 (not too far from the AMC Highland Center). Keep in mind that this spot gets busy in the winter, so be prepared to arrive early for a spot. Also, there is a rustic bathroom (I believe it’s a composting toilet if memory serves) just off the parking lot.
The approach to the cliffs is on the cog railroad bed, which does not run in the winter. It’s well traveled and usually packed down, so I have never needed to use snowshoes for access. You will need to cross a large railroad bridge to access all of the cliffs, which will be on the left side. The ‘In the Woods’ section that we went to is down a while, just over another small grated bridge, and up a steep hill on the left.
At this section there are great trees up top to use for TRing, but know that you will either need to use a steep (and kinda sketchy from what I hear… Chris usually handles this part) climber’s trial to access the top, or have someone in your group that can lead to the top. We went with the second option on this day. I have also found that groups climbing here are VERY friendly, and are willing to share ropes. We have previously done routes with a bunch of MIT outing club students who let us use their setups. The ice climbing community is pretty small, so it appears that everyone is really willing to help and teach one another, which I love!
Hopefully these images of winter will help you cool off on this muggy, steamy, day. I for one cannot wait for those cool and crisp days of fall to arrive.